By Jocelyn Illing, January 15 2017 —
Never in a million years would I have thought that I would praise terrible filmmaking. But there’s a lot to love in The Room, Tommy Wiseau’s notoriously bad 2003 film turned cult classic. As James Franco sets out to tell the story of the making of that film, the easy route would have been highlighting just how bad the movie really is. However, Franco opted for a different approach. Instead of a tale of failure and humiliation, The Disaster Artist, based on The Room co-star Greg Sestero’s memoir of the same name, is a story of dreams, friendship and hope.
Franco’s film, for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, tells the story of Tommy Wiseau, a mysterious billionaire with a strange European accent, and Greg Sestero, played by Dave Franco, a fresh-faced young man with big dreams. Tommy and Greg meet in an acting class and form a friendship based on their shared vision of a future in Hollywood. After many failed auditions and meeting a questionable agent who refuses to return their calls, Tommy and Greg set out to create their own film. The rest is history.
Watching The Disaster Artist altered my opinion of Wiseau. When I first watched The Room, I thought it was terrible and wondered how he failed to think the same. As I’m sure many other critics did, I questioned both his intelligence and his sanity. Surprisingly, The Disaster Artist chooses to focus not on Tommy’s lack of talent but on his crazy ambition. Tommy, like many of us, has dreams and will stop at nothing to make them come true. His refusal to give up and decision to pave his own path in order to become an actor is admirable. The film also comments on the true meaning of friendship. During the long process that was the making of the film, Tommy and Greg never gave up on each other. They set out to start something great and were damn sure to finish it.
What made the film so mesmerizing was the complete dedication of the entire cast. Each actor embodied his or her character with honesty that captured the spirit of The Room. Franco’s portrayal of Tommy is spot on. Not only did he nail the enigma’s vaguely Eastern European accent, but also his humanity. When put side by side, the clips from The Room and the The Disaster Artist display the impeccable casting and performances of all actors involved.
The Disaster Artist is one hell of a ride. One moment I would be laughing at Tommy acting out a scene and the next I would find myself tearing up over the sheer pureness of his friendship with Greg. Watching the film was definitely a spectacle and I would insist that it is one to be witnessed by all.
To see Sestero’s own opinion of The Disaster Artist and his experience after The Room, check out our interview with Sestero during his 2017 appearance in Calgary.